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Prevention No Cure: A Critique of the Report of Australia's National Preventative Health Taskforce

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  • Mark Harrison
  • Alex Robson

Abstract

Australia's National Preventative Health Taskforce baulks at the economic approach to public policy that weighs up costs and benefits, and instead adopts a 'healthist' perspective, with an open-ended and unconditional commitment to maximising health and a jumbling of private and external costs. The result is to overstate the benefits, and ignore the costs, of proposed policies. While this is predictable given the interests and agenda of preventative health advocates, it is not desirable. Not only is the economic approach mandated for regulatory reform, it has a number of advantages in determining the likely effects of policies and identifying unintended consequences. Although the Taskforce emphasises the irrationality of consumers, it is not clear whether a preventative health bureaucracy will improve the efficiency of health spending.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Harrison & Alex Robson, 2011. "Prevention No Cure: A Critique of the Report of Australia's National Preventative Health Taskforce," Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics, vol. 18(2), pages 7-26.
  • Handle: RePEc:acb:agenda:v:18:y:2011:i:2:p:7-26
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    File URL: http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p151621/pdf/ch024.pdf
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    3. Harry Clarke, 2008. "The Economist’s Way of Thinking About Alcohol Policy," Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics, vol. 15(2), pages 27-44.
    4. Ehrlich, Isaac & Becker, Gary S, 1972. "Market Insurance, Self-Insurance, and Self-Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(4), pages 623-648, July-Aug..
    5. Miron, Jeffrey A, 2001. "Violence, Guns, and Drugs: A Cross-Country Analysis," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 615-633, October.
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